Brain development, including mature wiring related to memory and learning, is partly regulated by extracellular signaling molecules. A group of these molecules called neurotrophins regulate the apoptosis, survival and differentiation of selective populations of neurons during embryonic development. Neurotrophins also regulate maintenance of specific functions in adulthood. Neuronal activity regulates neurotrophin production, and, in turn, neurotrophins have a potent effect on the target neuron’s signaling.
The neurotrophin family members include Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), Neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and Neurotrophin- 4/5 (NT4/5). These neurotrophins support different neuronal populations within the central and peripheral nervous systems. The trophic (survival promoting) and tropic (directing neurite outgrowth) properties of neurotrophins demonstrate their potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and peripheral neuropathies.
Merck provides a wide selection of antibodies and related products that will assist in the study of neurotrophic factors and their effects.